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Monday, January 31, 2005

Cybersex 

That title got your attention, didn't it? Millions of people engage in "virtual sex" using their computers as a window to connect with others. "Hot chat", "cybering", "cybersex"....whatever you wish to call it. Its out there and a lot of people do it.

I can remember reading a magazine article about this in 1995. Has it really been that long? I was on the verge of purchasing my first ever P.C. (complete with 2 gig HD and 28.8k modem!). I thought to myself, "you've gotta be kidding me". People sit in front of their computers and talk intimately with strangers whose real names they may not even know?

"The best relationships, online or off, sexual or not, arise naturally out of common interests and spending time together. Not long ago, just being online and in IRC was enough of a common interest to forge bonds between chatters."

When I first got online, IRC was where it was at. The whole chatting thing was a relatively new phenomena. I was totally amazed at the idea of communicating with a "room" full of people from around the globe in real time. I began a chatroom devotee, spending many hours with my fingers flying across the keyboard. Many of the same people came back to the room night after night. I forged relationships....friendships with many of them. We were there for each other night after night.

I heard about people "cybering", but the whole concept still seemed kind of alien to me. Sure, it was fun to flirt in the chat rooms but I kept it pretty light. We'd sit around for hours being witty and charming, telling jokes, and swapping wav files and pictures. I of course noticed that many people in the chatroom were being awfully quiet. What were they doing?

True confessions here. One night I found out what all the fuss was about. A light hearted private conversation turned into something more. I poured all of my imagination into the imagery of it all, letting the words come off the keyboard as they entered my mind. I could visualize the whole thing. Yes, I was turned on!

Not everyone was very good at it. Being a slow typer was a very bad thing. I knew one guy who had a script for it. He would just cut and paste into the conversation. Very bad form! Creativity is a must of course. There are only so many ways you can describe a sexual act. You tried to evoke surroundings, feelings, and sensations. The fun and the challenge is weaving a story together with a partner.....creating something unique out of something so common. It was fun. I spent idle hours thinking about new ways to "do it" in the virtual sense. No, its nowhere near the real thing, but for a lonely, shy guy sitting at home it had some definite appeal. The principles were the same as real world relationships.

I remember once being involved in a particularly steamy chat. All was going fine until she called me by another name. Uh oh! She had more than one going at once!

So what draws people to it? How can words on a computer screen have so much appeal? How can they stimulate people, turn them on, make them feel something? We're all masterful lovers in the online sense. Everything fits together. No one has a headache or is tired. We can perform like circus acrobats. We're daring and bold. We're the kind of lovers we want to be. Its all happening in our minds. Making love to someone is both a physical and mental act. My guess is that focusing on the mental part can rewarding to some.

I no longer frequent chat rooms. The times I've tried the conversations were boring and mundane. "ASL"? "Any females want to chat privately"? Yawn. The idea of randomly seeking cybersex with a total stranger doesn't hold much appeal anymore.

Online relationships are funny things. They can be so intimate...so powerful. You can find yourself pouring your heart out to someone you just met. You can find yourself flirting with someone you've never seen. You've got nothing but your words and your imagination so you throw your all into that. Why don't we do more of that in our "real" relationships?

I was amused by this paragraph:

"Are blogs the new chat? Maybe. Blogs and their comments definitely appeal to longtime netizens who miss the glory days of the BBS, and it is unlikely that participants come to a blog on a mission to find cybersex. As in games, cybersex emerges as relationships form."

So THATS why there are so many people blogging!


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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Sis 

The second anniversary of my sister's death passed a little over a week ago. I was too mired in my own problems to dwell on it much then, but I've thought of her often in the last week. She was only 30 years old when that violent crash snuffed out her life.

My sister was almost twelve years younger than I am. I was a teenager when my parents adopted her. I remember the day well. All of us were standing in the living room, waiting for the social worker to deliver her. She was wearing a white furry coat and looked so cute with all of her blonde hair.

She was the youngest of us all and the only girl. I was your typical teenage boy, interested in girls and sports, but I couldn't help but be captivated by this little girl who was such a performer. My dad used to get her all dressed up, have her stand at one end of the room, and he would sing "Miss America" as she pranced across the floor. My parents poured adulation on her and my mom filled her closet with little girl clothes.

I wasn't around much as she was growing up. By the time she was in kindergarten I was heading off to college. She began having problems as a teenager. Drinking and drugs became a big part of her life. She got pregnant before she was old enough to buy beer. She consorted with some of the worst low-lifes around. She was institutionalized several times and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I visited her in the mental wards of several area hospitals. She got married and all seemed stable for awhile. But then that too fell apart and she returned to a life that would destroy her. She moved from house to house, from guy to guy. She bounced from one fast food job to another. When she died, all of her worldly belongings could fit into one cardboard box.

She once came to visit me for a few days when I was living in the country. I had a little three-wheeler that I would tool around the pasture in. She asked me to take her for a ride and we bounced across the terraced fields. When we came to a steep hill, I foolishly tried to drive up it. The little three wheeler began to stall halfway up the hill and I gunned it for all it was worth. The front wheel went into the air and it flipped us both off! She landed first and I landed on top of her. The three wheeler came to rest perched over both of us, still running and wheels spinning. She was laying there laughing uproariously and told me, "you're a great big brother but next time I'll do my own driving"!

Her oldest daughter has been adopted by my parents. They are raising a teenager who is the spitting image of my sister in many ways. Sometimes when she turns her head a certain way or walks by I still do a double take. She knows that her mom was on the way to see her on the morning she died. She wants to remember her and wants all of us not to forget either. On Christmas Eve, before we opened presents, all of us brought something for my sister and opened it.

My sister died before she could straighten her life out. Would additional years have given her the peace and wisdom that had eluded her? We'll never know the answer to that question now. She didn't want to be this way. She wanted to change.

The last time I ever saw her was in the cramped waiting room of a mental ward in a small Oklahoma town. She looked like hell, bruises on her face and neck, her hair askew. But when I walked in she ran across the room and leapt into my arms. She whispered to me, "I'm so glad you came to see me". I teased her about her tongue piercing. We talked about her plans for the future. She wanted to be a real mom to her girls again. She wanted to get off drugs. She wanted a stable life. Six months later she would be dead.

This thing we call life is the most fragile thing imaginable. We have it today and it can be gone in the blink of an eye. We may not have the chance to correct those mistakes. We may not have the chance to forgive someone and let them know we love them. We may not have the chance to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. That hug we give could be the last one.

Missy, my life got a little messed up too. You would've understood. We could've talked about it. Maybe I could've helped you get things straightened out. None of that is to be.

What is real is that I miss you and I won't forget.

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Friday, January 28, 2005

Weekend Roundup 1-28/1-29 

Inky has been looking over her high school yearbook and planning a reunion. Kristine was looking over the BOB awards and found herself a winner!

Feisty Girl got some rotten root beer. Steph's secretary is not rotten....she's really pretty cool.

Christine writes of about a close encounter of the girl-girl kind. Check out Erin's new pics and you might want an encounter with her too!

Frani gets complimented on her housekeeping. Stacey gets some compliments on her photos.

HunnyB has a few things to complain about. Nicole has a few questions to ask.

Vince is planning a career change. John is planning a trip to Kansas City.

Janine remembers her trip to Auschwitz. Faith can't seem to forget the bad old days.

Caren *hearts" gay people. Aubree was not *hearting* those mean girls at school.

Jen describes what its like to be alone. Rachel describes what it was like to open Pandora's Box. Read both of these posts...you won't regret it.

Katriana has a date with a 6'4" goateed guy...and its not me! *sniff* Jennifer is trying to score a date at an online dating site.

Vickie writes of finding balance in life. Tara's life is balanced and its only getting better.

Some Girl confesses to buying tabloid magazines. Anne confesses to being grateful and sweet.

Diana has two budding bloggers in her family. Sallie tells us why she blogs.

Edge compares himself to a friend. Donna wonders if her friend will understand her need for sobriety.

Stephanie has a little uterus humor. Ken has some humor in his Friday potpourri.

Andie started her weekend early. Claire just started eating...she had a hungry day!

Ellen lets us know what NOT to say. Kim lets us know about Canadian television.

Carol has a birthday funk. I'm in funk after reading about missing out on the Oklahoma Blogger Bash.

Stacey might've done a few stupid things. I wouldn't call it stupid necessarily, but sleeping on the bathroom floor probably isn't a great idea. Right Veda?

Charkey gets a surprise on the first day of class. It surprised me when Okie Doke publicized the fact that there are haunted places in Oklahoma.

Mary Lou knows things a woman should know. Love Donnaz knows Joe Walsh. Well, he met him at least!

Kater is dating her best friend. Annabel Lee would just settle for a massage right now.

Jack is hooked on "The Apprentice". Carrie is hooked on high speed internet.

Scorpy has five songs that mean a lot to her. This vacation obviously meant a lot to Vegas Baby.

Chuck learned a few things listening to the classic rock station. Marc just wants to know what is really going on in his life.

Ginger is working on a deadline. Jeni needs to work on getting more sleep!

NewWaveGurly loves being in the shower. Puglet definitely does not love being dumped.

Alyssa got a new tatoo. Nikki got a new job and it doesn't involve taking her clothes off.

Becky finds the perfect gift for someone who has everything. A perfect gift for Shauna would be a computer that didn't crash.

T Marie is still job hunting. Peachy talks about what makes her job worthwhile.

Shelli's daughter celebrates a birthday! Tammy is celebrating moving into her new apartment!

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Death and Hope 

"I think about it quite a bit", said the tearful 7th grade girl in front of me. Her notebook was festooned with comments like "Death is near" and "I'm one step closer to dying". She told me about her resentment of her dad and how other girls at school mistreat her. Now she was in trouble for the first time at school. She was facing a short term suspension. She's stealing things from other kids. Her mom was on the way to meet with me. We had disposed of our discipline talk and were discussing why she had such an interest in death. Her used tissues littered the front of my desk.

Her mom looked like she had been slapped in the face when I told her about the conversation her daughter and I had been having. She burst into tears and said, "why haven't you talked to me about this? Why can you share things like this with Mr. S but not me"? She accepted my referral to a counseling agency. I hope she follows through. If she doesn't, I'm going to lean on her to do it. This little girl has a lot on her mind. I'm hopeful that her discipline issue will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. This girl has been flying beneath the radar for awhile. Her grades aren't very good but she's not in danger of flunking out. She is soft spoken. She is polite. She doesn't make waves. Teachers have to devote their time to the kids who are acting out. People assume she's ok because she doesn't say much.

How can someone so young have thoughts like this? Its a damn tragedy. How many others like her are sitting out there now?

She gets added to my small list of projects....kids I keep a close eye on. Kids I make a point of talking to every day. Kids whose teachers I check in with to see how they're doing. Kids whose parents I keep in touch with. She's on the radar now. The teacher that busted her for theft came up to me this afternoon and said, "I can't get that girl out of my head". Neither can I.

A girl this age should be planning a slumber party with her friends next weekend. She should be thinking about how cute that boy is in the next row. She should be fascinated with that art project she is working on. She should be reading those silly girl magazines. How can she possibly even consider the idea that death might be preferable to her still forming life?

What she needs is hope. Hope that things won't always be like this. Hope that she won't feel this way forever. All of us should be helping her find it.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Confessions Of A Dating Idiot 

I've plunged into the life of a single man with a combination of excitement, nervousness, and trepidation. I've already found myself in several quandaries that beg for explanation and reflection. I've dated, made friends, and formed relationships of various kinds. What I haven't done is really put enough thought into what it is that I'm doing. I've thrown myself a lot into my new job and raising my kids. I've put a lot of thought into what I should do about my career. But I haven't put nearly as much thought into what I want in the dating/relationship area. I've lurched around basically, heading in the direction of what feels good until I hit the wall. The trouble with that kind of lurching is that it can hurt others. I hate hurting other people, especially those who have been really good to me.

A pattern emerges. Even when its not visible I can feel it. I draw people into my life. I'm upfront and honest about where I am in my life. I warn them that I'm in a difficult place right now and not to expect too much. But my actions belie that because thats part of who I am. Mixed messages abound. In spite of myself I draw them in closer and soon enough it feels too close. So I push back...gently of course, but firmly. I put up walls and barriers. I burn those who have come to expect more. Then I repeat the process.

Its such a conundrum. I want things that are in conflict with each other. I crave intimacy but fear what it brings. I don't want to be alone but the word "commitment" sends shivers down my spine. I want to be close to a woman, but when that closeness is offered I back off. The fear of being hurt again causes me instead to hurt someone else. I want to go slow but then I race ahead, only to shift into reverse a little while down the road.

I feel like a caricature of guys I used to scorn as "assholes". I don't treat people like this. I'm an honest man who cares about the feelings of others. I wish I could use my grief, confusion, and general male stupidity as an excuse. But thats not good enough. When you become involved with someone as a friend, lover, or something more, you have some responsibility for their feelings. I've been so damn self absorbed that I haven't done nearly enough of that. No more. I've always considered myself to be a nice guy. But even nice guys can hurt other people. If anything, they have greater potential to do just that.

So whats the solution? I could just sit home and not date anyone. That would certainly solve the problem. But I crave adult female companionship. Other people who don't have it all figured out are out there dating. I should be able to do it too..right? Part of the problem is that I haven't done much real "dating". I got married when I was young. Got divorced and had a couple of torrid flings. Got married again. Now I'm 43 years old and less experienced in the dating area than your average 23 year old. I don't know the rules and I don't know how to manage the expectations.

What I can do is be even more honest. I can spend more time listening and less time seducing. I can make my actions match my words. I can strive not to take things for granted. I can stop assuming that everyone understands where I'm at. I can pay attention to what is actually happening instead of bouncing along in my own little dream world. I can focus on healing myself and making myself a better man.

To those who've rode along with me on this journey. I'm grateful for your friendship and love. I owe you a lot.

I'm sorry for how I've treated you because you deserved better.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Tuesday Tittering 

This blogging thing must be getting bad when you are having an amorous moment with a woman on her couch and she stops, looks at you, and asks "are you going to blog about this"? Would I do something like that?

The never ending battle with our dog Wendy and the fence is back in my favor again. For a week she stayed inside the fence. All of a sudden she was getting out again. What the hell? We've had plumbers here repairing a sewer line and they had to dig under the fence. Voila, a new Wendy escape route! I wonder what she'll come up with next.

One of the things I hate is forgetting garbage pickup day. Last week through me completely off with the holiday. I hauled the big plastic container to the curb on the wrong day! Grrr. I made sure to get it right out there tonight so that I wouldn't forget again.

Aubree greeted me picking her up today by saying, "hey Dad, I've got a great title for my next blog post". Have I created a monster here?

My dental insurance is holding up payment to my dentist. I tried to call and find out what the deal was. I got a "virtual assistant" who spent 15 minutes trying to understand my voiced questions. "Yes, I'll be happy to help you with that" intoned the pleasant sounding female computer voice. Thats great except that it wasn't answering the question I asked! Finally, I got to a real live human being. She was able to answer my question but I didn't much care for her answer. I have to contact my previous dental insurance and get them to send me a letter stating the previous dates of coverage. Then I have to send a copy of that letter to my current insurance company which informed me that they take 7-10 days to process it. In the meanwhile my dentists wants his money. *Sigh*

My education about women continues with some things that you'd think a guy of my age and intelligence should know, but doesn't. I think deciphering Talmudic texts is easier!

I've got several books going at once. I'm reading Richard Bach's "Illusions", John Grisham's "The Broker", and "Human Brain and Human Learning" by Leslie Hart. I pick up one, read it for awhile, and then switch to the other. I scatter them in the bathroom, on my bed, and near my computer desk.

I'm never sure about these things, but I think the Mary Kay lady who was visting at my school was flirting with me.

It was 68 degrees and sunny here today, and its late January! Next week could be a blizzard. You just never know here.

I couldn't stop myself from doing the whistling from the opening of The Scorpions "Winds of Change". I whistled it in my office. I whistled it walking down the hall. I whistled it on lunch duty. I whistled it on the way home. Hell, I'm whistling it right now!

And so it goes. How are y'all doing out there?

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Monday, January 24, 2005

Good People 

My dad has taken up some different pursuits in his retirement. He is taking art lessons and has begun to do some pretty good sketches now. He has also began writing short stories and essays. Yesterday he gave me a copy of something he's been working on. The title of his essay?.... "Good People". Dad has travelled the world and he was relating stories of the good people who have touched his life over the years. Some were people he grew up with and others were strangers whose lives intersected with his for a brief moment. The Hong Kong cabbie who found his lost briefcase with money and jewelry and returned it intact. The impeccably dressed Houston woman who drove a stranger around in her Cadillac to help him find his car on a scorching day. He had many such examples.

It made me stop and think. What makes someone a good person? I'd like to be considered one. I've known quite a few. I hope I'm raising a couple of them. I've worked with many. I'm friends with some. I've met a fair number right here on this blog.

In my mind, good people are those who are able to rise above their own selfish needs of the moment. They live for something other than what they can extract from society. They value honesty and integrity in their dealings with others. They aren't perfect, but they strive to get better. They aren't all about money and how much of it they can hoard. They take care of their own but they aren't myopic. They feel bad when they do something wrong and try to make amends.

I'm very probably more than halfway through my life now. I've done a lot of good in the first half. I've helped kids. I've loved and been loved. I've given of my time and talents. I've helped friends and strangers in need. I've counseled people in trouble.

But you know what? I've done a lot of other things as well. I've been selfish. I've been immature. I've been less than responsible. I've been too damned lazy. I've not always been as open and honest as those I care about deserve from me. I've been a lousy money manager. I've always been a loving father but I haven't always been a good one. I've made some wonderful friends but I haven't given them back all the friendship they deserve.

All of us are a work in progress until the day we die. We can celebrate our virtues, our successes, and our triumphs. We can tame our vices, recognize our shortcomings, and learn from our mistakes.

I'm in the springtime of my life. Spring is a time when things bloom fresh and anew. What I want is to take the heartache I've endured and use it to plant the seeds of something worthwhile. I want to look back on this time not just as period of heartache but as a time of renewal.

I want to be a "good person". Not just a nice guy. Not a good ole boy. Not just a fun guy to have a beer with. Not just a joke teller and bad karaoke singer. I want to be able to look back and know that I always strived to be the best person I could be. I couldn't say that now. I want to be able to say it then.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Movin Up 

My principal asked me to come in for a conference Friday morning. Only a couple of times this year has she asked to meet with me, so I was naturally very curious what it was all about. What she had to say took me by surprise.

She opened by telling me what a good job I was doing and how she hoped I was happy in my current job. Then she told me that she thought my talents were underutilized in my current position and how she thought I was ready for something more. She said, "you are a truly exceptional and gifted administrator. If we don't recognize that I know that you will find a better position outside the district, and I'd like to keep you working for our school district". My district is a a large one (15 middle schools and 9 high schools) , and she let me know that there should be multiple openings for principals and assistant principals. This is the time of year that the central office begins thinking about next year and who to put in those positions. She said, "you're ready right now and I would like to help you." She told me that she had called the district's director of personnel and told him to pay close attention to my name. She also set up a meeting for me with the district's Chief Academic Officer, who is the final decision maker on assignment of administrators.

She told me that the only thing I lacked was knowledge of the "lingo" that is used districtwide. I need to know more about the philosophy that underpins what the system is trying to do. So she loaded me up with seven books, each one with sticky notes attached in key places. I am to read these books so that I'll be conversant as I talk to "the right people" that she is introducing me to.

I'm extremely flattered and gratified that she is taking time, devoting energy, and using her good name to help me. I'm humbled. When she said, "Mr. S, will you let me do this for you"?, all I could do was nod, smile, and say, "yes ma'am"!

Her timing is excellent. I've been thinking for some time about what to do about next year. I like the school I work in and the people I work with. But I do feel like I'm ready to take a crack at running my own building some day. I enjoy doing teacher evaluations, curriculum, and staff development. In my current position I don't have much input on these things. I've started to look at vacany listings on various websites. Where would I want to work? Now she is offering the opportunity to move up in this big-city system.

Whats a guy to do? Keep his options open...thats what. I really can't lose. I'm happy in my job, even though I would like more responsibility. If the right situation opens up for me, I'm ready to jump in there.

I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm ready.

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Friday, January 21, 2005

Weekend Roundup 1/21-1/22 

Stacey lets us know that he might be a fuckwit if ________. Caren thinks she can identify a certain fucktard. Whatever happened to nice insults like butthead or asswipe?

Edge compares good drugs to the fun drugs of yore. Then of course there are those dreaded urine tests. Inky has scintillating conversation with her "pee handler".

B2's wife doesn't seem to appreciate his interest in comics. Feisty Girl's hubby knew she would be interested in an IPOD.

Veda relates colors to her life. Vickie explains how to get more out of life.

Sex is medically good for you, and Jack brings us the scoop. Maybe he should tell the virgins that Jen works with.

Tara talks about basic courtesy. Donna talks about herself.

VegasBaby's sister was in an accident. I'm so glad that they are ok. Stacey writes a tribute to her older sister.

Janet continues her tribute to the 90's. I'm paying tribute to Faith for four months of sobriety.

The inauguration made Jennifer teary eyed. Ellen didn't cry but she did get frustrated with the postal system.

Katrina ponders the six degrees of blogging. Kim is pondering the implications of turning 41.

Sally pays testament to her mom's courage and strength. Janine's story pays testament to the power of a few simple words.

Rachel discusses her scars. John discusses his favorite condiments.

If my zipper was down, Sallie would know just what to say. Cetta knows what to say to people who attack Spongebob.

Andie explains what chipped ham is. Anne explains why she doesn't mind when someone tries to save her soul.

Vince keeps adding to her story. Stephanie will be adding to her 100 things.

Stephanie celebrates her daughter's birthday. Thomai celebrates her gig as a video/film director.

Phyllis is feeling lazy. Some Girl is just not feeling well at all.

Diana confesses to being a skin care junkie. Kater confesses to being busy.

Leslie is glad she's not 65 and can enjoy nights like this. Chuck isn't very happy with the premise of the new "Apprentice".

Ginger plays "Homeowner's Challenge". Nicole played "Ask My Kid To Grade Me" and got an "A"!

Puglet shares her nickname. Shelli shares her frustration with her mothern in law's senility and its impact.

T Marie is looking for a few good books. Frani is always looking for a good cup of coffee.

Have a maaahvelous weekend!

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Thinking About Sex 

I always knew this claim had to be bogus. Men don't really think about sex every seven seconds. At least I don't. Sometimes a minute or two will go by without me thinking about it....just kidding! :)

I probably do think about it every day though. When I'm busy at work or home, sex rarely crosses my mind. But when my mind is unoccupied by immediate demands, I think about it quite a bit. Its not like a running porno film going through my head. Most of my sexual thoughts are rarely that explicit. An attractive woman smiles at me and I wonder just for a moment if she's a good kisser. I notice her breasts and I wonder what they really look like under all those clothes. Something I see or hear triggers a sexual memory from my past and I relive it with a smile on my face. An innocent enough IM chat triggers idle fantasies. I read a story and give it an ending of my own. Her voice on the phone makes me wish she was whispering it in my ear instead. Writing a post about thinking about sex....well, it makes me think about sex!

Popular culture doesn't help matters. How much of the music we love deals with sex? How many movies have sexual content? Even prime time TV is racier than it used to be. Commercials and billboards play on the fact that sex is a major part of our thoughts and lives.

I actually can't imagine NOT thinking about it. Its a source of endless pleasure. I am a sexual being among my many other roles in this life. Sex has driven me to the pinnacle of pleasure and made life more colorful and vibrant. Its also caused me to make some of my stupidest decisions, but thats another story.

I wonder if my brain looks something like this.

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New Blogger 

Its my pleasure to introduce Aubree's foray into blogging. She has been asking me about it off and on for awhile. Since she really does enjoy writing...well, why not? She picked the title, the subtitle, and the template, and has written her first post. Her next blogging subject? Those girls at school who spread those nasty rumors that she likes a boy.

Check her blog out here and leave her a comment if you can!

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Wild Wednesday 

Well, it wasn't really all THAT wild, but it was Wednesday.

Aubree came up with a bright idea. She sat at the kitchen table sketching furiously on a piece of paper. She drew up an architectural looking diagram of a new room that she thinks we should build here. She proposes walling in the carport and making it into a new room for her! It would have a door to the backyard so that Wendy can get in and out. She would have her own food pantry, bean bags, and lava lamps. I asked her if she wanted a refrigerator in there too. She said, "maybe just a small one or a little cooler". Her drawing was actually really good! She told me very seriously, "Dad, we should build the room this summer. It could be a fun family project. I'd even be willing to give up my allowance to build this room".

I had an irate dad on the phone today. He kept interrupting me and pressing me to answer ridiculous questions. One of the questions? "Mr. S, would YOU want to serve detention"? No, ummm, sir, I really wouldn't! Thats the whole point. This felt like a testosterone challenge here and I could feel my competitive juices flowing. My vice-principal sat there listening, very amused by the whole thing! He threatened to not have his son serve the detention. I said, "thats your decision of course. Once you make it then I'll have one of my own to make, and I don't think you will like it very much". He huffed and puffed awhile and then....he started to wear down. He lost that tough-guy edge in his voice. He said, "sir, all I'm asking is for you to reconsider your decision". Aaah. Thats more like it! I told him that I would consider cancelling his son's detention if he would come to the school and meet with the teacher involved. He did, it went pretty well, and we all shook hands in the end. Gotta love it. After I got off the phone with him, my vice principal said, "I was enjoying that. You were in a ZONE"!

Aubree thinks she wants to have a blog of her own. She has all kinds of ideas about what she thinks she would write about. Coming soon perhaps!

Patrick was going through lunch money like crazy. It seemed like every time I turned around I was writing another check to the school. Why? He was eating TWO large slices of pizza for lunch and paying extra for a cookie every day. No more of that!

I stop at the Sonic Drive-In near my school almost every day. I really enjoy getting a soda there. I also really enjoy the carhop that serves me about 80% of the time and always calls me "honey".

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words 

All of these are recent pictures taken at my parent's house:



Note the school lanyard with ID tag and whistle placed strategically in shirt pocket!



I know she's my kid and all, but isn't she a beaut?



Patrick being....Patrick!

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Its Down To This 

My cell phone rang as I pulled into the airport parking lot. When I answered I heard the so familiar, "hi baby". "I'm standing outside. We got here early". I pulled the van around to the baggage claim area and saw her standing alone. I pulled up to the curb and walked around the back of my van to meet her. We hugged for the longest time and kissed like we have so many times before. The last time I picked her up at this airport was seven years ago. We would be married a few days after that.

We picked up the kids from my parent's house, grabbed a bite to eat, and came home. My home, not ours anymore. She played video games with Aubree and we showed off our karaoke machine. The next day we would make a fruitless drive to Stillwater, planning to eat at Eskimo Joe's. We didn't count on the college basketball game being over at the same time we arrived. Parking was impossible and the restaurant was jammed. Aubree wasn't feeling well....her stomach had been upset all day. We all went to a barbecue joint which had a live blues band. Lee and Aubree cuddled and watched ice skating on the TV overhead. Patrick complained about the noise. I tried to hold back tears. We shopped at Wal Mart, just like old times. We sipped margaritas at a local Mexican restaurant. She made omelets just the way Patrick likes them.

After the kids were sound asleep we lay on my bed, talking and crying. The facade that I've seen since June crumbled away. The pain and resentment that I've so carefully hidden away crumbled right along with it. There were tender moments where both of us were sobbing. There were other moments where we tossed feelings back and forth. Our voices never raised, and although we both were critical of the other, no rancor filled the room. For the first time, I told her directly how much she had hurt me, how betrayed I felt, and how angry I was. For the first time, she apologized tearfully. We talked of where we had gone wrong. We talked of her frustrations. We reminisced about some of our best times together. We seemed to alternate between frank talk, tears, and laughter. I felt that for the first time I had been fully heard. It meant a lot. We cued up the jukebox and danced one last time to "our song".

She brought presents for the kids which were excitedly unveiled on my dining room table. She also brought blank divorce papers. You see, she too needed resolution. We discussed what would go into our divorce. We haggled over the disposition of our home. We sat at my dining room table as she filled out the forms, one page after another, handing them to me for approval and signature. Its comes to this doesn't it? To the rest of society the end of this marriage is just a stack of damned forms. All legal like. Petitioner and respondent. I kept looking for a "broken heart" box that I could check.

It was bittersweet. For fleeting moments, everything was as it was before. Jokes being cracked, stories being told, glances exchanged, and playing with the kids. There were other times when I had to walk quickly out of the room to keep my tears from being so obvious to everyone.

We talked of what it all meant. How had those seven years impacted our lives? I wanted to know....was I just a guy? Nothing special? Had I been living in dream world all along? Had she ever felt what I felt? Was it always just a temporary thing? Did she really understand how much I cherished her? How could things have gotten to this point so abruptly? Why didn't we talk about it? Why didn't we try something different? Why couldn't she have tolerated my weaknesses? Why couldn't I have done something about them?

For me, Lee occupied the center of my heart. She was my baby, my everything. I would crawl a mile just to see a smile on her face. I would've died for her. No one else could penetrate that center. I loved her without reservation. I used to get off work and start my drive home. I would hold my cell phone in my hand and wait for the bars to show that I had reception. I would call her each and every day on the way home. Why? Because I just wanted to hear her voice. I wanted to share a story of my day with her. I wanted to hear about hers. I didn't want to wait the hour and a half it would take for her to meet me at home. I continued this right up until the day I drove away in August. I used to brag to everyone about what a great marriage I had. We loved each other. We shared our feelings. I held my marriage up to the seniors in my class as a shining example of what to do. A month after that is when she told me she wanted out.

After I moved, I took all those feelings and put them aside so that I could function. I would pull them out on dark, lonely nights and rub them like an old chestnut. I kept them alive. I was moving on in various phases of my life but I couldn't let this die completely. I didn't want to. It felt disloyal to even think about it. I kept little symbols of her around my house...the small ladybug candle on my dresser, the ugly metal fish on top of my bed. I brought with me the entire collection of love notes and cards....anniversary and birthday cards, notes left on my dashboard, a map of her hometown that she sent to me shortly after we met. The box sat in my closet and I would occasionally pull one out. The picture of her and Aubree looking out at the ocean together sits on my bookshelf. I forced myself not to call her more than once every week or two....though I often had the urge. We'd always shared everything. I wanted to tell her about something funny that had happened at work, something that pissed me off, or something one of the kids had done. My feelings for her withered around the edges, but they were still there. Someone pointed out to me recently that whenever I said anything that could even be considered mildly critical of her, I tempered it with praise. Anything less felt like a betrayal to our memory. Even if she wouldn't, I would keep the coals lightly stoked.

Reality and realization had set in before she arrived. I knew that she simply did not want to be with me anymore. I knew that I had to accept that and begin moving on. I've been in the slow, agonizing process of doing that for some time now. But I didn't want to let what we called "the magic" just die. I might've wanted to but I just......couldn't.

Now its time. "The magic" has to die so that I can live. She can't be in the "center" anymore. She can't occupy my thoughts daily. I can't think of how I can please her. Her happiness can't be a primary concern for me anymore. I can't spend any more time thinking of how to win her approval. I can't love her the way I did. My eyes well up with tears writing that. I told her this....it's as if I needed her understanding.

I can't erase the memories of course. I can't wipe out the past. I can't change it either. Its still ok for me to feel sadness at times. Its ok to feel that betrayal of what I thought we believed in. Its ok to feel warmth when I think of some of those wonderful moments we shared. She is part of who I am.....for better or worse.

I showed off our karaoke machine by singing this song to her: ( 3 Doors Down- "Away From The Sun") I could feel my voice cracking as I sung, and I couldn't look at her while I was singing.

It's down to this
I've got to make this life make sense
Can anyone tell what I've done?
I miss the life, I miss the colors of the world
Can anyone tell where I am?

It is down to this. Its time for me to find the colors of the world again. Its time to let her go. Not to just tell everyone I did. No more brave face and big talk.

I said goodbye to my wife last August. Now its time to say goodbye to Lee...my love. Its time to say goodbye to that special relationship. Its necessary and its healthy, but it doesn't make it easy. (I had to stop here and go to the bathroom to wash the tears out of my eye)

To Lee: Thank you for coming here, facing me, and talking to me straightforwardly. Thank you for allowing me to say everything I couldn't say for the past six months. Please remember me as fondly as possible. Many of the things you said this weekend will help me get over you. I needed this badly. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm hurt. I'm relieved. I'm forward-looking.

I took her to the airport this afternoon. The drive to Tulsa was surreal. It had a feeling of finality. This is it. This is the true end. Tears welled in my eyes during the drive and I fought to stifle them back. Aubree cried softly in the back seat. All of us got out at the airport. The kids hugged her goodbye and then got back inside the van. Just the two of us....standing alone at curbside. Try as I might, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing freely. We hugged for a long time. I slid my wedding band into her hand and closed her fist around it. I told her, "put it with its mate". More hugs and a kiss and I was back inside driving away. I watched her in the rear view mirror until we drove out of sight. As we pulled back onto the freeway Aubree pointed out to me that the sun was setting. It was a beautiful sunset, with bright orange colors lighting up the Oklahoma sky. It was somehow fitting.

Fare thee well my darling.

A part of me died this weekend. Its time to embrace what will arise from the ashes.

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Weekend RoundUp...

Yeah, I KNOW it's late... but better late than never. I spent the weekend painting and watching movies, and never opened the laptop. It was rather liberating.


Instead of telling you what these posts are about, I'm gonna link to em, and let you discover on your own some interesting blogs. Sometimes I don't read some really great posts, because the "subject matter" doesn't interest me. Then when I give in, I find that they were really very interesting after all. So... some that are normally reviewed here, and some that are not. Enjoy.


Charlie Fish Jen Dave Steph Little Owl Smitten Julia Bryan Beth Ken

and the 3 things lists of the week:

Christine Jen Butterfly Caren Stacy Tara Martha

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Bald is Bee-oo-tiful: A Photojournal, Part Two 

I couldn't resist doing another one of these while Bri is out. Hold on, ladies, here we go! ~Jen



Hector Elizondo ~ one of my latest fantasies ~ will start the round up of bald beauties.



Bruce is verrrrrrry bad!



Billy Corgan. Smash those pumpkins, baby!



Yul Brynner. The classic. Why so ANGRY, though?



Anthony Edwards. Nerdy cute.



Yoda!! Bald I am, yes! Hmmmm! Happens to every guy, sometimes this does.



Matthew St. Patrick. Mmm mmm mmm.



Robert Duvall. I think this photo is wonderful.



Homer Simpson, of course!!



Ben Kingsley. One of my favorrrrrrites for sure!



Louis Gossett, Jr.



Vin Diesel. I know I had this one in there last time, but it is so delicious I thought it needed a rerun. ;-p



What you say, Mr. Stone??


You know we all love you and that blog of yours! You have come a long way on this journey of yours and it is wonderful to see it all happen. Plus, you just make Oklahoma a better, brighter, beautiful place. ;-)




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Friday, January 14, 2005

Mutterings for a Rainy Friday 

Brian very graciously asked me to post while he was away this weekend. I'm new to guest blogging so please bear with me.

While trying to decide what to write about I also wondered if I should tone down my rants and raves. But I have a feeling that my rants and raves are why Brian asked me to guest post. :)

Next week is the Coronation...I mean Inauguration of Dubya's second term. (I've never understood why an Inauguration was necessary if the sitting president won a reelection. I have a feeling I'm ignorant of the logistics behind it.)

Anyways, besides the fact that Dubya won, I'm still in denial of this, the District of Columbia is having to foot the the bill.

A $20 million bill.

I don't know if many of you know this or not, but D.C. doesn't have a lot of money.

D.C. also lost its minimal representation in Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes lost her vote in 1996 when the Republicans took control of the House. You read that right, D.C. has NO REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS. Congress can tell D.C. what they can and cannot do, and Del. Holmes has no recourse to object.

What's my point?

If Bush wants to spend $20 million on the Inauguration, then the Federal Government should pay for it, not local tax payers. That money could be spent on so many things that D.C. desperately needs.



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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Thursday Tumbles 

As previously mentioned , blogging will be light or non-existent this weekend. Luckily for me, some outstanding guest bloggers have stepped up to the plate. Steph has agreed to do the weekend roundup for me. I'm happy to welcome Dan as a guest blogger. His blog is current events based, but who knows what he'll come up with here. The ever-so-lovely Jen...well, there's never a dull moment with her around! Caren has also agreed to pitch in here with her excellent writing and strong opinions. With this star-studded lineup my blog will be in great hands for the next few days!

Heard this week from a parent: "my child (14 yrs. old) has never used the word "fuck" in his entire life". Those of you out there who are parents or thinking about being parents...you want some free advice from someone with 20 years experience working with kids? Banish that phrase..."my kid would/has never....." from your lexicon. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard that and then demonstrated it to be wrong!

Thanks to all of you who have expressed public or private good wishes/concerns about this weekend. I've spent a lot of this week pondering everything and I know it will all be ok in the end.

Heard from a student this week: "What exactly would I have to do to get suspended the rest of the year"? He wants to be expelled or be allowed to drop out. Of course, he is 16 yrs. old and in 7th grade.

Did I ever mention that I really love my job?

I talked to Patrick's teacher today, and she told me a story from class yesterday. He was given a picture of a dragon to color. Patrick doesn't like coloring very much at all..he never has. But he dutifully starting coloring the dragon and then asked if he had to color the dragon's teeth. The teacher replied that it was up to him. He sat there, pondered the question, and said, "I don't think I'll color the teeth. I'd hate to have a dragon with dental issues"! This kind of statement is so totally Patrick.

Thanks once again to all my guest bloggers! I may or may not check back in this weekend. I'll wish everyone an early "Have a great weekend"!

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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

3 Things 

I couldn't pass up the request from my friend Edge to do this list. So here goes!

Three Things

3 names you go by:

Brian
"Briny" (its what my grandfather called me)
Dad

3 screen names you have:

princ
princ61
Mr. Big

3 things you like about yourself:

My hands
My um... "thing"
My eyes

3 things you hate/dislike about yourself:

My lack of self confidence
My toenails
My ears


3 parts of your heritage

Scottish
Irish
Native American


3 things that scare you:

Dying alone and broken hearted
Failure
Hurting people I care about

3 of your everyday essentials:

A very hot shower
Dr. Pepper
Reading blogs

3 things you’re wearing right now:

A gray "Washington Huskies" T shirt
Black boxer briefs
Gray sweatpants

3 of your favorite bands/artists

Eric Clapton
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Rolling Stones

3 of your favorite songs at present:

"Here Without You" by 3 Doors Down
"My Immortal" by Evanescence
"100 Years" by Five for Fighting

3 new things you want to try in the next 12 months:

Skydiving
Writing a book or short story.
White water rafting


3 things you want in a relationship (love is a given):

Earth shattering, window rattling sex
Adventure
Trust

2 truths and a lie (no particular order to keep ya guessing):

I sometimes cry driving down the road
I'm fanatical about having all my dishes washed before I go to bed
I've had sex in an airport parking garage


3 physical things about a love interest that appeal to me:

Her eyes
Her ass
Her smile


3 things you just can’t do:

Stay away from my computer
Ice skate
Stop buying books

3 of your favorite hobbies:

Reading
Blogging
People watching


3 things you want to do really badly right now:

Get a full body massage
Have sex
Have a cup of hot tea

In that order I think!

3 careers you’re considering:

I have a career but if I was going to change I'd love to be:

A novelist
A lawyer
A pilot

3 places you want to go on vacation:

Moscow, Russia
Australia
Cairo, Egypt

3 kids names (either boy or girl):

Heather
Holly
Amber

3 things you want to do before you die:

Get my doctorate degree
Write a book
Understand women (hey, we're dreaming here right?)

3 people who have to take this quiz now:

Faith
Caren
Tara

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Smiling 

I had a reflective, wistful post in mind for tonight, but couldn't see putting my readers through yet another tour of my troubled mind. So I thought I'd write about what makes me laugh and smile. Yes, I do laugh and smile when I'm not somber, thoughtful, sad, or feeling sorry for myself. What lights up my world?

1. A deliciously dirty joke, especially when told by someone who doesn't seem like they should be telling dirty jokes!

2. The playful smile of an attractive woman

3. The feeling that I'm getting away something...that I have a secret that others don't know.

4. Patrick kissing me on top of the head or Aubree nestling her head into my chest.

5. Good music played loudly.

6. Being flirted with.

7. Giving or receiving a massage.

8. The smell and sound of sizzling fajitas.

9. Friends who are comfortable enough with me to "give me shit".

10. Fingers across my chest.

11. Someone telling me "I understand" and knowing they mean it.

12. A book that I just can't put down.

13. Personal email in my inbox. I love getting email!

14. That nice buzz after a few margaritas.

15. Playing chess.

16. Talking playfully with one of the students at school.

17. "A comment has been posted to your blog".

18. The burn of spicy hot food in my mouth.

19. A slow, savory, sensual kiss.

20. Listening to my kids talk to each other when they don't know I hear them.

21. A nice telephone conversation or IM session with someone interesting.

22. The sights and sounds of a classroom full of kids engaged in learning.

23. A beautiful sunrise or sunset.

24. A walk in the woods.

25. Singing to myself.

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Monday, January 10, 2005

The Fog 

There was a dense, thick fog this morning for my daily commute to work. The fog just hung over everything, shielding much of the scenery from my eyes. As I alternated between my music CD and the morning radio news, it struck me that this could be something of a metaphor for my life right now.

I can see and appreciate those things close to me. I can meet new people and value them. I can love my kids more than ever. I can enjoy my job and the people I work with. What I'm lacking is perspective and dimension. I can see the trees. Where the hell is the forest? What am I doing with my life? Where am I going? (Why am I being so damned existential now? lol). How am I going to find the right path? How will I know if its the right one?

I'm lacking the big picture. I'm lacking direction and focus. I used to know where I was going to be next month, next year. I used to know what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. Now I'm trying to find all those things again. Now I'm just living day to day. I can't tell you what I want. I have dreams, but don't dare to dream them.

Someone my age shouldn't be at rock bottom. This is the time in your life when you are supposed to be settled. I'm not a damn kid anymore.

My future is as clear as that fog this morning. I know its out there somewhere. I just can't see it. So for now, I'll just keep driving and at least hope I'm headed in the right direction.

Yes I know...Don't turn on the high beams!

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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Resolution 

This is one of the most difficult posts I've written here. There are so many things that I just don't know the words for or can't seem to figure out how to say, so a lot will go unsaid.

Lee is coming here this weekend to visit. She will arrive on Friday afternoon and leave on Monday. This trip has been in the works for weeks. Why is she coming here?...to see me and the kids. We haven't seen her since we drove away from our home in Washington on August 1st.

Since that day she and I have talked every week or two on the phone. We've discussed practical matters....the sale of our house, finances and bills, etc. We've talked about the kids and how they are doing. We've had many moments of tears. Talk of reconciliation has flittered in and out of our conversations. I knew that was a long shot but there has been a part of me that has wanted that since the day I drove away. Wouldn't she somehow realize this was all a terrible mistake? Wouldn't she discover that she still loved me the way she used to? Wouldn't she realize that Aubree needed her mom back? Wouldn't she understand that I still wanted to be a dad to Brynden?

We hadn't done a damn thing about her marriage since that day we drove off. The subject of divorce has been brought up and then dropped just as quickly. She wasn't ready to deal with it, and honestly, neither was I. Sure, we're separated and living thousands of miles apart with no plans to change that. But the finality of filing divorce papers seemed so traumatic. We both let it drop and slide. Of course there comes a point when you must face reality. If we're not living together, don't plan on living together, plan on staying thousands of miles away from each other, and are ready to explore other relationships, its time to do something about it.

Slowly and steadily, like a tortoise in a race, I've been gaining strength over the past few months. I'm ready to face the reality that is my life. I'm ready to talk to her about moving on. I'm ready for that discussion that we've avoided having all these months. I need to have that discussion, and I think I need to do it face-to-face. I can't live in limbo-land like this anymore. My life needs clarity.

I'll always love that girl that I fell so hard for, in what seems like a lifetime ago. I wish to hell things hadn't turned out like this. This is a very un-tough, un-guylike thing to say, but I miss her sometimes. There are also times when I feel anger, as in "how could she have done this to me and the kids"? I feel disappointment in myself, knowing that there were things I could've done differently and mistakes that I made.

I'm hopeful that next weekend we will reach some resolution. I'm ready to see her and I'm ready to have this talk. I'm hopeful that when I drop her off at the airport on Monday we both will have a sense of peace.

Its hard to see over the horizon when you're looking backwards. I want to cast one more tearful glance back and then move on with my life.

(Blogging will be light, if at all, next weekend. I'm issuing the call for guest bloggers. If you'd like to post here next weekend, leave me a comment or shoot me an email!)

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Weekend Roundup 1/7-1/8 

Christine has an erotic dream. Jen has one too. Is it getting hot in here yet?

Shara had a power outtage. Puglet just wants to be out of her life...at least temporarily!

Faith has a parenting question. Wanda questions why she turns more toward religion as she gets older.

Frani was tempted to buy a big screen TV. Erin let her temptation win....she bought silk scarves in Baghdad! Erin is a "pretty American soldier girl". Check her site out!

Caren gets all existential about "Buffy The Vampire Slayer". Edge is running a little behind on things and he doesn't even like this post of his.

Ginger hopes her new diet resolution works better than the last one. Kater hopes she can survive her new schedule.

Steph is trying to raise money for tsunami victims. Shelli might be saving money by drinking out of plastic champagne glasses.

Mary Lou ran out of pepper. Vince doesn't seem to be running out of steam on her story. I like it!

Veda did her civic duty but didn't end up getting on a jury. Its Jennifer's duty to inform us that Blockbuster's new "no late fee" policy isn't all its cracked up to be.

Hunny B has some new clothes! Some Girl has some new groceries but had to pay the price to get them!

Stacey has a new red dress. Janine will soon have a new niece/nephew.

Jack discusses tactile communication...in the Venus and Mars sense. Rebecca's heart and mind are waging a pitched battle.

Elisabeth worries that she's going to go insane! It sounds like fun, but I might go insane if I spent three months on Antarctica like Leslie's brother.

Nicole wonders why Hollywood couples don't stay together. Maybe they should consider Tara's perspective and appreciate what they already have.

Dawn is having a pajama pity party. Nikki is going to party like its her birthday.

Vickie posts some keys to finding peace and happiness. Sallie posts a wistful ode.

Flax is a goddess, but we already knew that! Maybe she could grant Jeni a wish and get rid of her annoying wrong number caller.

Kristine's daughter zings her with some witty repartee. Sally's granddaughter has overcome a lot of adversity. She sounds like a special young lady.

Rachel plans on wearing a mask in her new job. I don't know if they wore a mask, but someone was messing with Gladys' email account.

Liz can tell you all about cute. Josie can tell you about Brazil...and I'm damn jealous.

Vegas Baby is proud of her country. I know that Riri will be proud when she finishes her book.

Shamrocketship can spot a bastard and she knows what to do when she finds him out. You've gotta read this one.

Cetta is raising her daughter right...just check out her vocabulary! Maybe she'll grow up and be successful and busy...like Chuck!

Lisa's "Fantasy Friday" never fails to errrr...inspire me. I'm inspired by Claire's self analysis.

John wants to buy us all a beer. If he buys too many Love Donnaz can tell you what will happen.

Ellen didn't get the result so many of us prayed for but we're not giving up yet! *hugs* to Ellen.

Hey there my friends. Have a wild, wonderful weekend!

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Travelin Man 

I've always loved to travel, to see new place, and do new things. I enjoy flying, would love to ride a train, and don't think I would get seasick. I have been to quite a few places here in the United States, spent the night in Vancouver, B.C. once, and have been to Nueva Laredo, Mexico. There are so many places I want to go. My occupation gives me lots of time to travel. The problem is that it doesn't give me a whole lot of money to do it!

So where would I go if I could? These are places I've never been that I'd love to see before I die:
In no particular order.....

1. Moscow, Russia - I mentioned this in my 100 things post. I became fascinated with Russia during the Cold War and still enjoy reading and learning about its culture. I want to see the Kremlin, Red Square, Lenin's Tomb, all the old cathedrals. I want to see a show at the Bolshoi and take a stroll through Gorky Park. (Remember the song from the Scorpions? "I follow the Moskva Down to Gorky Park Listening to the wind of change"...whistle, whistle)

2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - I'd love to visit during Carnival. Yes, gorgeous women and beautiful beaches of the topless variety hold a definite attraction!

3. The Serengetti, Tanzania - Yes, an African safari! Huge expanses of grassland, wildebeests and other exotic animals. Take me there, give me a jeep, a ridiculous looking hat and let me explore!

4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands - Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists and there is a museum dedicated to him there. I've heard there are some interesting recreational activities in the city but I'd probably be far too busy museum hopping to enjoy any of those :) I want to go even more after reading this post by Zandria on Sweetie's blog.

5. Australia - I want to snorkel or scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef and explore the wilds of The Outback. I'm fascinated by such a huge, lightly populated, continent. I love the accents and would enjoy the cosmopolitan cities as well.

6. Las Vegas - I've never been there, love casinos and gambling, and wouldn't at all mind a few days of mindless glitz, glamor, and hedonism.

7. Jerusalem, Israel - the mix of religion, culture, and history is fascinating. An ancient city full of history....and I'm a real history guy!

8. Cuba - if it ever becomes legal for Americans to visit I'd love to go. The food, the beaches, the music, good cigars, rum, baseball. Oh yah.

9. Cairo, Egypt - The Nile, the desert, the pyramids. Too much of a lure for someone fascinated with ancient cultures like myself! :)

10. Hawaii - Aloha baby!

This list is by no means all inclusive. There are so many other destinations I'd like to visit. But if I can tick these off before I kick the proverbial bucket, I'll be one happy bald-headed guy!

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Midweek Mutterings 

Can you believe its Wednesday already? Its a cold Wednesday here! I did outside bus duty this afternoon and I couldn't feel my ears after 20 minutes standing outside shivering.

School is back in full swing now. I regret to inform you that all of my students didn't turn over a new leaf over the holidays. Many of them are acting the same way as when we left. Funny thing that!

The most interesting work incident this week was the case of the "magical marijuana joint". When the bell rang Monday afternoon several people noticed the distinct smell of weed coming from one of the boy's bathrooms. There was smoke in the bathroom and it could be smelled in the hallways. Now the question was.....whodunit? My search of the security camera video revealed three young men entering the bathroom during this time. We pulled in all three boys, put them in separate rooms, and made them write out statements. There was no physical evidence to be had, but all of them had the rather distinctive odor on their hands and clothes. At least one of them was obviously high...at least obvious to me. None of them would admit to smoking it. After some persuasive questioning and comparing statements all of them admitted to holding it in their hand....but no one would admit to actually smoking it! One said that he held it to his lips but didn't inhale it. I said, "who are you...Bill Clinton"? He looked at me totally befuddled by the reference. So I explained it to him...hey, always an educator right? I told them, "this must be the magical joint. No one knows where it came from. No one lit it. It smoked itself after you guys took turns holding it. Then it flushed itself down the toilet. Please don't take offense guys, but I don't think I've ever heard a more ridiculous story". They laughed, spilled a few more tidbits, and ratted each other out some more. One of them told me that he smoked it all the time. I said, "you smoke it every weekend, you're holding a lit joint in the bathroom, and you didn't take a hit. Whats up with that"? He laughed and clammed up. What they didn't realize was that under the rules they might as well have smoked it. Possession carries the same penalty as using it. They all received hefty suspensions and their parents were given referrals to drug treatment programs.

Many readers of this blog know how badly I've wanted an IPOD. Now there is yet another reason for me to own one. Actually I just want the articles!

Patrick's new medication seems to be having a positive effect. At least I can tell a big difference at home. We'll see what the school reports after this week.

I understand that today is supposed to be "De-Lurking Day". So if you read here regularly or are just stopping by, and you don't usually comment...well, Comment! I don't bite...much!

So how is YOUR week going?


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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Workplace Dating 

Have you ever been involved with a coworker before? I was once and it turned out to be disastrous! Thats worth a post all by itself some time. I thought I'd never do that again. I've learned my lesson, right?

Not so fast. I've recently become involved with a lady who teaches in my building. Before any of you pull out your ethical hats, I am not her direct supervisor. My position gives me authority over the kids, but very little over the teachers. I don't evaluate her and can have no impact on her job status whatsoever. With that clear, let me introduce you to someone!

"T" is someone I noticed from the very beginning. She is about my age but looks at least 10 years younger. She has big, beautiful eyes, a nice figure, long dark hair, and a very nice smile. I have a "duty station" that I'm responsible for during the passing periods of the school day. Her classroom is located nearby and I noticed her quickly. Part of me was saying, "Brian, she's outta your league" and another part was saying "why not"? Still, these workplace things can be awkward, especially for a man. I can't just stroll up to her and ask her for her phone number can I? What if she says no? Imagine the discomfort for the rest of the school year. So I noticed, I appreciated, but I did nothing about it.

A few weeks ago "T" and her teaching friend invited me to join a group of teachers for "Happy Hour" after work. A whole group of people would be there. It sounded like fun and I was a little titillated by the idea that she would be there. When I arrived there were coats and purses on all the chairs except the one next to her, which was fine by me! After about 30 minutes, everyone else stood up and left. She and I sat there and talked for a couple of hours. We walked outside, said our goodbyes, and headed home. Nice!

A short while back I received another invention for "Happy Hour" from "T". Once again I arrived and sat down next to her. Once again, everyone else left after a short period of time. Once again we sat there and talked for a couple of hours while sipping on our margaritas. Seeing a pattern here? ;) I even gave her the address to my blog. Yikes! Hi "T"! We walked outside and stood talking in the parking lot. Eye contact, smiles, looks, they were all there. But of course the very cautious part of me was saying, "what if she's just being nice"? I said, "that was fun, we'll have to do it again sometime". She agreed. I stood there and shuffled my feet in the awkward silence. She said, "you could call me if you had my phone number". I said, "yes, I could but I don't have your number". She asked, "would you like my number"? I said yes, of course! I called her the next day.

Since that evening we've had a couple of very long telephone conversations. We've talked about our work, love of kids, our relationships, our attitudes and outlooks on life. I asked her out on an impromptu date while I was in Tulsa doing some Christmas shopping. We flirted at the table, ate some really good food, sipped margaritas (what is it about tequila anyway?), and got progressively handsier in the restauraunt.She playfully accused me of trying to seduce her. I tried to explain to her that I was an innocent country boy. She wasn't buying it. I can't imagine why. I had to go pick up the kids so our evening was cut short, even though I enjoyed the time I spent in her car warming up after that cold walk across the parking lot!

She knows that I'm not really emotionally ready for another serious relationship right now. So for now, we are good friends who talk often, exchange a sly wink at work, and see each other now and then. Anything wrong with that?

As I try to figure out this whole single life thing she's become a resource....someone with war stories and definite ideas. I'm happy to count her among my friends.

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Monday, January 03, 2005

The "Normal" One 

Over the years Aubree has expressed frustration many times about growing up in a house with Patrick. In spite of the fact that she is three years younger, she often plays the role of "big sister" to him. She reminds him to brush his teeth. She chastises him when he makes messes. She screams in frustration when he pees on the toilet seat for the 100th time. She reminds him that the doctor said he needed exercise and she drags him outside to get it. She hates it when he goes into her room and takes something that belongs to her. She rolls her eyes in frustration at the daily battle that accompanies mealtime with Patrick. She correctly surmises that he has something to do with the fact that her mom doesn't live with her anymore....I won't confirm this for her but I don't have to, she just knows. Sometimes she gets angry and calls him "stupid". Other times she takes up for him if other kids are picking on him.

She was highly interested in what the doctor had to say about Patrick after our recent appointment. I talked to both kids about the doctor's findings and what it meant for all of us. We talked about what the medication is supposed to do, what changes were to be made in his diet, and what his diagnosis means about his ability to deal with other people. I think she was happy to hear something put into words instead of always being told, "that's just Patrick..deal with it".

Last night she and I watched a movie together. The basic storyline involved a high school boy who had an annoying handicapped brother who always seemed to embarass him and screw up his life. The boy wished on a lucky coin that he didn't have a brother. The next morning he awakens to a different reality...no brother, parents have tons of money, he's the most popular kid in school, the girl that ignored him is now his girlfriend. He's the star of the football team because his parents could send him to camp instead of spending the money on an extra kid. He revels in his new reality for a short time. But then he misses his brother, his old life, his nerdy parents, and his old friends. He realizes that being cool and popular isn't nearly as important as loving the important people in your life. He gets another coin and wishes for his old life back.

Aubree and I kept looking at each other during the movie. At one point she said, "Dad, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about me and Patrick". I nodded and told her she was right. At the end of the movie I asked her, "if you were that boy would you have wanted your old life back"? She said that she would have..."its not worth being popular if you have to lose your family and friends". She said, "Patrick makes me sooooo mad but I love him".

Everyone thinks their kid is special, and all of them are in their own unique way. Sometimes they make you so angry or disappointed. Other times they make you burst with pride. I would've rather heard those words from her lips than have her receive a school or athletic award. She has good values about people. She's smart as hell and so intuitive it scares me. It hasn't been easy for her. She's the one that has suffered most through all this....the one that has had to pay in spades for my errors and flaws.

Sometimes I think I'm not capable of raising a little girl on my own. Other times I wonder who is raising who.

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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Weekend Roundup - New Years Edition 

Jen ponders the power of attraction. Stephanie was not at all attracted to her stalker.

Kater wonders if a herd of elephants resides upstairs. Jeni didn't have elephants in her home but she did have an unwelcome guest.

Ginger got a rock on her finger! Congrats! Erin got a rejection letter but isn't all that discouraged about it.

Janine reflects on working in a prison. Shadowbox reflects on what scares him about himself.

Anne calls a man by the wrong name. What would you call Snowball's wild New Years Eve?

Hunny B lets us know what Santa Claus brought to her house. Scorpy has a few new things in her house after hitting the garage sales.

It sounds like Vegas Baby had very nice Christmas. Didamo wishes the rest of us Happy Holidays.

Faith makes some New Years resolutions. Shelli has some of her own.

T. Marie has hopes for 2005. So does Veda!

Tara reflects on her experiences and lessons learned in 2004. Gladys reflects on where she's come from five years ago.

Vince has a a little post-holiday malaise. I doubt Kristine does after a night like this.

Edge advises us to just rip into 2005. Amen brother! Christine wanted to rip into the people who tried to sell her a termite-infested house.

It sounds like Claire got the new year off to a great start. I hope that 2005 brings better things for Sallie. She wraps up 2004 in nice fashion.

I wish I'd written this post by Jack. It says it all. I'm going to let it sit here unpaired.

Esther pays tribute to her cats. I'll pay tribute to Nicole's new hairdo.

Nameless is having a vigil at the hospital for her dad...please include her in your thoughts and prayers. Do the same for Ellen as she prepares for surgery and the results of her MRI.

This year is going to be Lisa's best one yet...just ask her. Ask Cetta about her t-shirt.

Dawn has an extra special reason to celebrate New Years Eve. Roy, the reason is you (humming song).

Flax gives us her last photo from 2004. Rachel give us her list of grievances.

Kim has been nominated for two blog awards. Go stuff the ballot box..err, vote for her. Maybe Liz should get an award. She actually went on a planned trip!

Chuck was ready to go home. If you had Stephanie to go home to, you would be ready too! Steph is ready to wear a bikini on the beach.

Liz is happy to put 2004 behind her. Stacey would be happy to do the same thing with vegetables.

Janet had a dream. I hope Alithea's dreams come true in 2005.

Happy 2005 everyone! May the New Year bring you peace and happiness.

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